The 1996 Summer Movie Preview: May
''Mission Impossible,'' ''Dragonheart,'' ''Spy Hard,'' and more
Starring: Tom Cruise, Jon Voight, Venessa Redgrave
Directed by: Brian De Palma
Good morning, Mr. Phelps. This microchip contains a photograph of Brian De Palma, director of Mission: Impossible. De Palma has vanished from the realm of movie hyping without a trace. Although publicists for the film deny any knowledge of his whereabouts, sources close to the director say he chose to make himself scarce after a series of creative battles with Impossible star Tom Cruise. Your assignment, should you choose to accept it, is to make sure this movie doesn’t self-destruct…
Actually, there’s little danger of that. With Cruise as star (and first-time producer) and a beloved TV franchise up on the screen, Mission is this summer’s most anticipated film. And yet…getting Mission accomplished was hardly the sort of clockwork operation one expects from the IM Force. For instance: That short fuse being lit in the movie’s opening credits? Turns out it belongs to Cruise.
Trouble between the director and the star-producer supposedly flared throughout the production. ”Brian had the s— beaten out of him by Tom and Paula [Wagner, coproducer],” says a De Palma crony. ”Tom second-guessed everything he did. One of the reasons the movie went over budget is that Cruise would change his mind at the last minute. ‘I want this couch to be red, not beige.’ Things like that. I think Brian felt pulverized during the making of this film.” Pulverized enough to ditch Mission‘s press junket earlier this month.
De Palma wasn’t the only one to experience Cruise’s darker side. When bureaucrats in Prague hiked location fees at the last minute, the star understandably went ballistic, lambasting local authorities (the gouging was partly his fault; his people failed to get prices in writing). And composer Alan Silvestri (Forrest Gump) probably won’t be joining Tom’s fan club either: Cruise jettisoned his score and hired Danny Elfman (Batman) to redo the music. Even some original IMers are miffed. ”The cast was approached to come back and get killed in the first five minutes,” says Martin Landau. ”But after all those years, that’s not the way we wanted to be remembered.” (May 22)
— BUZZ It’ll all be worthwhile in the end, or at least by the end; Mission‘s last 15 minutes are said to be its best.
Starring: Dennis Quaid, Sean Connery, David Thewlis, Pete Postlethwaite, Dina Meyer
Directed by: Rob Cohen
Though Sean Connery gets star billing, he never set foot on the Slovakian locations where this medieval fantasy about a knight (Dennis Quaid) who joins forces with Draco, the world’s last living dragon, was shot nearly two years ago. Working with Jurassic Park dinosaur designer Phil Tippett to create ”the first CGI actor, a dragon who is lionlike and noble and not snaky and serpentine,” director Rob Cohen (Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story) cast Connery as Dragonheart‘s heard-but-not-seen star ”because he has represented various aspects of masculinity that were a perfect overlay for this dragon.” After Connery recorded the dialogue, Cohen culled close-ups of him as a guide for animators; 182 shots of the 18- by 43-foot dragon (accounting for $22 million of the $57 million budget) were created, morphing Connery into Draco. On the set, Quaid found that acting opposite Connery’s dialogue track ”wasn’t spontaneous enough,” so the director impersonated Connery, shouting lines from off camera. As for acting opposite an unseen protagonist, Quaid says, ”Without sounding too artsy-fartsy, I pretty much had to imagine the dragon inside myself and relate to it as if it were my own wild nature.” (May 31)